[Advaita-l] Bh.Gita verse 18.73 - Was Arjuna an 'aparoksha Jnani'? - Part 4

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 17 12:55:34 CDT 2010

To my knowledge, before Vedavyasa and his four disciples compiled  the four Vedas and the Puranas the   entire Vedic literature was called Yajurveda.   

--- On Fri, 7/16/10, Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote:

From: Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Bh.Gita verse 18.73 - Was Arjuna an 'aparoksha Jnani'? - Part 4
To: "A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Friday, July 16, 2010, 11:07 PM

In my previous post I criticized the view that women and dwijetara could learn and practice the Vedas.  Such laxity is a distortion of our philosophy.

But by the same stroke, too much severity is also a distortion of our philosophy and equally deserves to be criticized.

On Thu, 1 Jul 2010, Venkatesh Murthy wrote:

> Puranas give a chance for the women and non brahmins to understand the
> vedanta. But purana knowledge is not same as vedanta knowledge.

Why not? jnana is jnana is jnana.  Puranas and other smrtis derive their authority from being the essence of Shruti.  If Shruti can provide knowledge (or more accurately destroy the ignorance that veils self-knowledge) then so can the puranas.  If the brahmasutras can destroy ignorance then so can the puranas which have the same author. And this is the conclusion of shruti itself.  See Chhandogyopanishad 7.1.2 where Narada in ennumerating to Sanatkumara the fields of knowledge he has learned mentions

R^igvedaM bhagavo.adhyAmi yajurvedaM sAmavedamAtharvaNaM chaturthamitihAsa purANAM pa~nchamaM

"Rigveda, Sir I have learned, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda, the atharvana as the fourth, as the fifth the itihasa-purana."  Elsewhere as well we see the Mahabharata or the Bhagavata or itihasa-purana in general referred to as the "fifth veda"  Why?  They are the veda of those who do not have access to the other four vedas.

For the karmakanda different adhikaras are laid down for different varnas, ashramas, genders etc. and this is right and proper for they are based on bodies which differ widely.  But Brahman pervades all whether moving or still.  A tree or a rock is just as much Brahman as Shankaracharya but it lacks the chetana or mental insight to realize this or the viveka to discriminate between real and unreal.  But can you seriously argue a human female or a shudra is not capable of chetana and viveka?  Shankaracharya does not think so.  He mentions Sulabha a female jnani in the bhashya on 3.3.32.
Vidura and Dharmavyadha are mentioned as jnanis who were Shudras in the bhashya on 1.3.38.

But if such people cannot study the Vedas including upanishads, then this ability to get jnana would seem to be only theoretical.  This is where itihasa-purana comes in.  By reading the vedantic portions therein such as Gita, mokshadharma, yogavasishta etc. which contain the essence of shruti and are based upon them, those who are not dvija can also learn the truths of vedanta and achieve moksha which is the ultimate purport of all the shastras.  Thus they truly are the panchama Veda.

> Arjuna was a warrior not a brahmin Only sannyasi can get vedanta
> knowledge.  Krishna cannot give vedanta knowledge to non sannyasi. He
> gave purana type of knowledge for non sannyasi Arjuna.  His doubts got
> cleared. He fought and won the war.
> Purana  type knowledge is also good. Dont misunderstand. It leads to
> vedanta knowledge as listener is born as brahmin in next janma.

Advaita Vedanta allows for jivanmukti i.e. mukti in this lifetime.  That mukti is caused by jnAna and jnAna can arise in any ashrama or even no ashrama.  (See brahmasutra 3.4.36 antarA chApi tu taddaShTe)

A jnani will always be a sannyasi even if he starts in another ashrama because jnana necessarily implies vairagya and distaste for material posessions etc.  He may not have danda or kamandalu etc.  These things are governed by shastras so there may well be restrictions of various kinds but the core values of sannyasa are capable of being practised by anyone with the right qualifications.  Even in the case of institutional sannyasa it is not always so cut and dry.  In a thread on this same topic we had some months ago, several modern and historical examples of female and non-Brahmana sannyasis sanctioned by the most traditional authorities were mentioned.

-- Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
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